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LA Angels hope to heaven that Pujols is their savior

This week, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim announced their signing of legendary Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. Seemingly stealing him away from a hometown return, this deal has not only altered the landscape of the AL West and NL Central, but baseball, as a whole.

What this means for St. Louis: For the Cardinals, this blow will put them on their backs, but only momentarily. Yes, the franchise lost their iconic future Hall of Famer, and he truly is an irreplaceable figure, but not an irreplaceable player. The Cardinals now have around $20 million available to pick up multiple players, addressing their needs at shortstop, the middle infield, and the bullpen. Possible out of town candidates mentioned in recent days include Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Beltran, both of whom would be significant upgrades for St. Louis. With Adam Wainwright returning from Tommy John surgery, and the majority of the roster intact, as things stand right now, it looks as if challenging the Redbirds in the NL Central will be a challenge.

2012 Projection: 89-73 1st Place in the NL Central

Will Pujols return the Angels to glory or go down the road of the mid-thirties decline?

What this means for Anaheim: For the Angels, this is a total game-changer. On the one hand, they have just signed arguably the best first baseman of the last 50 years. Through the first 10 years of his career, Pujols totaled at least a .300 AVG, 30 HR, and 100 RBI, narrowly missing extending that streak last season, in which he collected 99 RBI. Through 2014, Pujols will provide the big bat in the middle of the lineup that the Angels have lacked desperately in recent years. However, following that, this deal does little more than tie up a significant portion of their payroll. There is the opportunity for Pujols to chase Bonds’ all-time home run record- he would have to average around 24 homers throughout the next decade to break the 700 home run mark. This signing, plus the signing of free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson makes the Angels the team to beat in the West, and arguably in the entire American League.

2012 Projection: 96-66 1st Place in the AL West

Following this deal, it looks like both teams will be in the position to make the postseason in 2012. The NL Central is weak, with Milwaukee likely losing Fielder, Epstein rebuilding the Cubs from the ground up, and Pittsburgh at least one more year off being a serious threat – the Cardinals should be on the field next October once again. The back-to-back American League champion Texas Rangers have been unseated, especially with the loss of their ace, Wilson, and the rest of the division is a wash. The Pujols deal has altered the game, no doubt. But only time will tell if the Angels did right in this signing.

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